Seeking an update on the Village Gardens project, the Hot Springs Village Voice sat down with project organizer Bob Devinney to learn more about the project as it moves forward.
Devinney said the inspiration for the project was when the International Lions Club encouraged local clubs to come up with Centennial Projects, thus noting 100 years of Lions service around the world.
The Hot Springs Village Evening Lions and Breakfast Lions combined to take on the project, but how to manage such a big undertaking was a real challenge. From there the clubs put together a steering committee made of Lions members and non-Lions members, because of the multi-aspect nature of the endeavor.
Next came discussion on what the project should be as they whittled the choices down to one – a Village garden. When approved, they went to the Property Owners’ Association and learned the concept of a garden had been on the radar for some time.
Then came the process of finding a suitable location. After many were evaluated, a fairly flat site was chosen off Ponce de Leon Drive near Arista Courts.
Next came the approval process, involving a surveyor and other matters, so as not to negatively affect nearby neighborhoods. All this took much of 2016, but now the organizers are ready to begin fundraising. Estimated cost $150,000.
Devinney sees it as a unique amenity for Hot Springs Village. “Community gardens are a big trend across the country. The challenge for us was to make it unique, to make a great gathering place for residents.
“The way it’s laid out lends itself to that, I think,” he told the Voice.
Key aspects of the project include a garden center with a meeting room, a porch, restrooms and a gazebo in the middle of the garden with a wash station and electricity. The plan is to begin with 40 raised beds available to those who are interested. With five acres at the site, Devinney noted there would be much room available for expansion in the future.
A flat grassy area for special events – a garden show, for example – will be inlcuded. Devinney added there will be a compost area and a “hoop house,” or greenhouse as it is known by many, for folks to begin raising plants.
Site preparation is the next step to remove trees, roots and all, as well as leveling the area where needed and determining building locations. It’s estimated that $40,000 is needed to do so, which would also include a circular drive and utilities. Eighty percent of the $40,000 has already been reached and more pledges are coming in. Now comes the task of fundraising to move ahead with the plans.
On Feb. 22 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Coronado Center, the Village Gardens kick-off event will be held, complete with light refreshments, a cash bar, music, drawings and more, at which time more details of the project will be shared. For more, go to the website www.lionsvillagegardens.org. The Feb. 22 event is open to all residents.
Devinney said, “It is rare we get the chance to do something really special for our beautiful Village. This very unique community project – Village Gardens – offers us this special opportunity.”